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Book introduction

Blood Runs Cold – an E-book introduction

The Hive is live with its second offering “Blood Runs Cold”

It contains seventeen edge-of-the-seat thriller stories written by seventeen authors. -Ratnakar Baggi, Varadharajan Ramesh, Tina Sequeira, Sarves, Rashmi Agrawal, Srivalli Rekha Mantrala, Anshu Bhojnagarwala, Priya Bajpai, Sreeparna Sen, Christopher Dsouza, Aradhna Shukla, Ell P, Kanika G, Sheerin Shahab, Pranav Kodial, Pavan Kumar and Yours truly.💛💛

The efforts are being noticed and appreciated by well-established and well-respected writers like Neil D’Silva and Damyanti Biswas who have written the forewords for ‘Route 13: Highway to Hell’ and ‘Blood Runs Cold’ respectively.

With diverse voices on board each story has something for the readers.

Grab your copy of ‘BLOOD RUNS COLD’ from here:

http://mybook.to/BloodRunsCold

Fiction

Coming soon…a Thriller anthology you will love

#Project3 #TitleReveal #BookCoverReveal

Hi all, 

I am a contributing writer in this exciting venture by The Hive.

The Hive is a non-traditional publishing collective. The first anthology was Route 13: Highway to Hell, a horror anthology. 

The anthology experienced tremendous success. More than 200 copies were consumed by eager readers. It might seem like a small number, but it’s not. In the world of self-publishing, these are great numbers, especially for a brand new entity like The Hive. Route 13 topped the horror charts on Amazon new releases for a whopping 6 weeks in a row and remained in top 3 for more than 12.   

Now, The Hive launched #Project3. They invited submissions and nearly 50 entries were received.

All the entries were subjected to a stringent two-round selection process and SEVENTEEN stories were selected to be part of #Project3. I am elated that my story is a part of this exciting anthology.

#Project3 is ‘An Anthology to Thrill,’ and the seventeen stories are going to do exactly that – thrill you, the readers. It has stories about scorned lovers, devious criminals, supercops, sleuths, violence, blood, danger, suspense and, murder. You are going to enjoy this. 

Delighted and proud to present to you the title, cover and release date of #Project3. 

                        BLOOD RUNS COLD 

                    Book Release: 17/07/2020

Why July 17th? Well, it is a very significant day for crime and mystery. 

1. The Romanov family were murdered

2. Erle Stanley Gardner, author of Perry Mason, was born on that day

3. The 100-year war ended with the battle of Castille

4. July 17th is the Day of International Criminal Justice. 

I hope ‘Blood Runs Cold’ gets the same support and love which ‘Route 13: Highway to Hell.’ enjoyed. 

Enjoy!

Yatindra Tawde

Travel

Hampi, Anegundi, Aihole, Pattadakal, Badami Part 2

Day 3

After an exhausting day in Hampi, we decided to take it easy the next day. This decided our destination for the day, which was Anegundi. Anegundi is nearby, @  20 km. from Hampi instead of another exhausting drive to Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami, which involved lot of travel.

Instead of breakfast in the resort itself, we opted for a light one outside. So the driver took us to the same garden restaurant where we had lunch the previous day. While my wife had a simple sada dosa, I had Mysore masala dosa which was totally different from the one available in Mumbai and so mouth-watering.

Once the breakfast was done, we were on the way to Anegundi. We passed through the very common landscape of Hampi and it’s surroundings, the boulder strewn countryside with small, green fields sprinkled in between. These are the rice plantations interspersed with the banana ones.

 

For those who don’t know, Anegundi or Anegondi is the Kishkindha of Ramayana. Kishkindha was the capital of Vali, the Monkey King and his brother Sugreeva, who helped locate Maa Sita for Shri Ram.

 

We reached our first destination, the  Anjanadri hill. A small, whitewashed temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman is perched on the summit. The Anjanadri hill is a hill of huge boulders piled on top of each other. The driver told us that there are more than 550 steps to the top which seemed to be a daunting task. But we decided to brave it and were on the way.

 

It’s a relief that most of the initial climb is under covers, as there is a roof constructed over the stairs. But once you have crossed 1/3rd of the way, you are climbing under the direct sunlight and the steps become steeper. It is not for those with bad knees. We were apprehensive on this point, but thankfully our knees held up.

 

As one climbs higher and higher, the view below gets more enchanting, a chequered vista of green and brown, green of the rice fields and brown of the boulders.

 

So we proceeded with regular halts to catch our breath. I noticed one thing. When there are many people doing the same thing; here, climbing and halting to catch their breath, an unknown bond is formed with the fellow climbers, smiles are exchanged, they tell each other, where they come from, their immediate travel plans, etc.

Just before the last few steps to the top, you have to bend more than half of your body height to pass underneath a huge boulder which almost bars you from proceeding further. It’s as if the penultimate bow before the Lord before you are welcomed into his presence.P_20200306_113744

We left our footwear with an aged person who seemed to be appointed for just that. Since the month of March is not in the usual tourist season, there was not much of a crowd. 

We were soon inside the Hanuman Mandir. We had darshan and sat inside, meditating before the Lord. It’s a small mandir and the space inside is enough for just a handful of devotees. 

After 15-20 minutes of silent contemplation, we emerged outside to have a look at the surrounding landscape. And were we zapped with the beauty of the fields below!

If that is not enough, tall coconut trees line the green fields and narrow canals and lazy roads meander through them.

 

After spending about an hour and a half on the top, we started our descent. During the descent, the topmost steps were comparatively difficult due to the step height. But once we reached the covered steps, the final descent was a breeze.

When we reached at the bottom, we were surprised to see a lady hawker of bananas talking to the monkeys who surrounded her. Though we didn’t understand the language, we were sure she was admonishing them for being boisterous and naughty.

Talking of being boisterous, we were certainly not, after the vigorous exercise of the last 3 hours. Our battery was down and our driver wanted us to climb another small hill to go to another temple. We declined politely, praying before the hill with folded hands.

Next, he took us to the Laxmi mandir located on the bank of Pampa Sarovar. Pampa Sarovar is a small lake which is considered to be one of the holy lakes in India. It attracts a large number of pilgrims as well as tourists throughout the year.

It finds a mention in the Ramayana too as Lord Ram and his brother, Laxmana had passed through during their quest for Sita. It is the same place where Shabari waited with the berries to meet Lord Ram. 

Though we didn’t witness it, Pampa Sarovar becomes very picturesque during the season of lotus bloom, with the whole lake being filled with lotus buds.

The priest of the Laxmi temple was a Maharashtrian from the holy place of Pandharpur and we were pleasantly surprised when he started talking to us in Marathi as soon as he saw us enter. I was surprised and asked him how he knew that we too were Maharashtrians. He just smiled mystically and proceeded with his prayers.

Once we left from there we were feeling hungry and tired. We had lunch at the garden restaurant and then decided to rest at the resort in the afternoon.

After the siesta, my wife was still feeling exhausted so I proceeded alone, this time to the Tungabhadra dam. 

The Karnataka Government has made excellent arrangements for the tourists. They arrange regular bus trips to the top of the hill, which flanks the dam and also to a beautiful garden.

Once I got off from the bus, the silvery rays of the setting Sun, reflecting from the dam waters welcomed me.

The panoramic view from above gives a bird’s eye view of the surrounding plains. One can see many water canals below, taking the water to far off places. After spending about 45 minutes on the hilltop, I made my way back. I skipped the garden as I was alone and then returned back to the resort.

 

Thus ended the day. The next day was another day of long car rides and walking.

Yatindra Tawde

 

book review

Hiraeth – A book review

The first image that captures your attention is the apt artistic rendition of the message the author wants to convey. The tree symbolises the Indian subcontinent, rooted in the same culture but the ripped apart into two countries by a sudden cataclysmic event.

As you read the stories, you are drawn into the lives of ordinary human beings, pushed into facing sudden extraordinary circumstances.

If there are obnoxiously creepy individuals, trying to take undue advantage of unfortunate situations, there are people who have not lost their humanity in the face of the difficult times.

If there are people who lost their sanity, there are individuals who clung to some hope even in those trying times.

But finally these are heart rending stories of the common man whose destiny was so mercilessly turned upside down by fickle politicians looking for their self-aggrandizement.

As you read the stories, you cannot but admire the high level of research, the author, Dr. Shivani Salil, must have undertaken to meet such affected individuals and families who were caught in the turmoil of that unfortunate event of partition of a great country on the basis of religion.

I recommend this book for all those who were far removed from this page of history, especially the young generation which is separated by the many decades of freedom.

Yatindra Tawde

humour

The Bus

As man evolved, he understood that, compared to other animals, he was a weakling. This was apparent on his various hunting expeditions to provide food for his dependents.

In addition to many other parameters, he lacked in speed. Most of the time, his prey galloped away or ran away, and he was left panting by the wayside.

Thus his need to domesticate various other animals like the horse to gain speed. This was his preferred means of transport, whenever he needed to travel faster, till the industrial revolution, when mechanised vehicles were introduced in the form of cars.

But these cars ran on petrol or diesel which were in short supply, hence expensive.

He felt the need to transport a larger number of people at a time and thus a bus was born. Though it ran on the same expensive fuel, the higher numbers it carried made it economical. But this dependence on buses and cars for faster travelling meant burning of the highly polluting fuels which became one of the major factors of global warming.

Thus started the search for cleaner and inexpensive energy sources.

Electrical energy is cleaner and today it is taking baby steps towards electric cars but there are other cheaper energy sources too, on which buses and cars can run. Like CNG, LPG, etc. but man is never satisfied.

Which brings us to the news which I read today.

It seems UK has taken a very important step where they have test driven a bus run by poo.

Poo, did I say!

Coming to think of it, it certainly would be inexpensive as it gets generated regularly, mostly every morning. Of course, there are those unique specimens who generate it untimely. And then there are few who fall ill and cannot hold it in and have to rush to generate.

There are enough species who do this extremely important social work day in and day out and contribute to reducing the global warming. My salutations to the scientists who conceived this unique energy source, based on methane conversion.

The day is not far, when this poo generation takes the form of an industry where various species are lined together every morning to generate energy for the ever growing vehicle numbers.

Already I see the importance of certain middle Eastern countries going down and corresponding elevation of another country which already has such an industry lining the huge network of railway tracks all across the length and breadth of its vast geography. It just needs to be tapped and exploited in a proper way.

Yatindra Tawde

Uncategorized

The Legend of the Egg

It’s said that Social Media is a world of’likes’ and’dislikes’. But in this world, these words are in their sillier avatar.

But that is expected to happen when people can socialize only by ‘liking’ or ‘disliking’. Nowadays ‘likes’ have taken the form of ‘love’ which is denoted by a red heart. Whereas ‘dislike’ has taken an ugly turn in the form of ‘troll’.

But today we will concentrate on’likes’ since recently it was in the news.

A puny brown egg; yes brown, for the racially sensitive, managed to dethrone the current queen of social media, on one of the social apps.

Now, anyone would wonder how can people like a photo of a humble egg, that too in such large numbers. After all, it is meant for creating a life or feeding someone. Why would anyone give it so much importance?

This Eggegend; that’s my word for the egg legend, it gave me sleepless nights. And a depleted breakfast, as I couldn’t bring myself to cannibalize a legend in the making, or rather a legend already made.

So my research started and where did I roam on the big, bad Earth for doing this research?

Nothing like what you would imagine.

I spread myself on my sofa after eating an eggless cake, which served two purposes. One, I was eating an vegetarian snack and second, I was respecting a legend.

While I lazed on the sofa, my mind was concentrated on the search engines which chugged across the pad screen.

And lo and behold!

There was this story of an Indian teenager who was the mastermind of this whole saga. And this was a proud moment for patriotic me.

This is his story –

He clicked an enticing photo of the brown egg, which did all the hard work of posturing before a DSLR camera. The teenager too, did not leave any egg…er… stone unturned, to capture the historic moment on camera. With just the right lighting and innumerable captures.

Finally he was ready to challenge the reigning queen.

The next step was to share his invaluable capture on the same photo sharing app, the fiefdom of the Queen.

And then the masterstroke!

Appeal to the empathetic feelings of the people; their propensity to support the underdog. So the photograph was captioned, ‘Let’s make the Egg the most liked on this app and challenge the reigning Queen!’. And the public did the rest.

And the rest is history.

Today this photograph is the most liked after dethroning the Queen and still counting the likes.

All hail the Eggegend!

Yatindra Tawde

humour

Dance to the ‘Moo’sic

It is said that life on Earth depends on survival of the fittest. Hence the most weak species like the Dodo were wiped out or the most powerful species like the lion and the tiger are endangered as they have to deal with the so-called sharper minds of humans.

Do IITian’s have the sharpest minds among the humans? At least in India, we believe so, as most parents would love to have their wards in an IIT. They think that once their children are into an IIT they have that extra advantage over other ordinary students when they start out on the rat race. Yes, the every day struggle of humans to earn a living and achieve something in life is called a rat race.

But when they get into IIT, and especially IIT, Mumbai these students have to vie for space with so many other species.

Once, students in IIT, Mumbai were vulnerable to dangerous species like the Leopard and the Cobra. The nearby Powai Lake was infested with crocodiles. Yes, you read right. Don’t think that the IITian’s have it easy inside that sprawling, tree lined campus.

Nowadays, the Leopard and the Cobra have almost disappeared, though they do manage to make special guest appearances at lecture halls.

However, today the street dogs, the monkeys and cattle, lord it over inside the campus. Few months back, I had written about the monkey menace there. The dog infestation is across Mumbai, hence nothing special to write about.

But today, a student was run over by two, fighting bulls. It so happened that they were chasing each other on the IIT campus street when an unfortunate student happened to be in the line of their stampede. Of course, he happened to be staring into his mobile screen, which is an invention of a particularly mad scientist, bent upon making the human race to go backwards in civilization. So the bulls steamrolled the student who miraculously escaped with minor scratches though he did lose consciousness at that instant. But happy to report his survival.

This goes to show that a few species are putting up a good fight to try and prevent the human race from running away and ruining the planet by infiltrating the highest echelons of human learning.

Last heard, the humans have appealed to their highest authorities to rid the campus of other animal species. Or atleast control them, as these other species do provide a stress busting environment to the extremely stressed students.

Yatindra Tawde

humour

Rowdy Rooster

There was nothing rowdy about it. Maurice had malice towards none. It was in his nature. To crow early morning; his daily salute the morning Sun. And the French countryside loved him for that, their morning alarm which never failed to rouse them from deep slumber. In fact, few people in the village did not get their morning pressure till they heard him. 

Maurice had a booming crow and the online friendly young folk of the town had made him into a celebrity in France. But no one in the village were to know that their way of life was soon going to be challenged.

Maurice had a booming crow and the online friendly young folk of the town had made him into a celebrity in France. But no one in the village were to know that their way of life was soon going to be challenged.

We in the Indian metros are very familiar with the concept of a holiday home where the nuclear families yearn for a break from their stressed lives and builders take advantage of this craving by offering homes in idyllic surroundings of the countryside.

It seems this is a common phenomenon in other countries as well. Certainly France, where our hero, Maurice comes from. 

His neighborhood changed fast and soon his owner’s small dwelling was boxed between big bungalows in which the city folk moved into, especially during the weekends. They came, looking for some peace and quiet, which they got in plenty but putting up with the loud crowing of Maurice in the early morning was a challenge. His owner was faced with complaints and being a simple woman, she tried various tricks to quieten him.

Suddenly he found himself locked away for the night. Extra care was taken to ensure that the morning rays did not reach him. 

Poor Maurice!

What was he to do? He started crowing louder to plead with his owner to let him out. 

Finally, a city couple from the neighbourhood had had enough. They were retirees who had moved to the village to imbibe the village life but forgot to put their city egos in the city. They slapped a case against the owner and accused Maurice of making a great cacophony every morning and disturbing their beauty sleep.

Soon the case grabbed headlines across France and the Maurice Fan club gathered supporters. 

“The complainants are fools who have suddenly discovered that eggs don’t grow on trees!”, thundered the Mayor of the town.

The other animals of the countryside came out in support, the donkeys braying and the cows mooing.

The lawyer defended Maurice’s right to make himself heard. He himself was not in court otherwise he would have crowed in his own defence.

Last heard, the city folks are getting used to Maurice as they are finding his crowing an early morning stress buster compared to the sounds of the city.

Yatindra Tawde

humour

Tu cheese badi hai mast…

“Tu cheese badi hai mast mast”, went the superhit song of the 90’s, which had Khiladi Kumar and Raveena Tandon gyrating to the lyrics. The spelling of cheese above is not a spelling mistake, it is deliberately spelled so, since it is the heroine of this story.

It is said that all living things, including trees, respond to various types of music, in different ways. While we have seen cats enjoying piano music, dogs have been known to headbang to rock.

Trees respond to music too, and Indian classical has been proved to help the plants to thrive. However, certain research says that trees or plants respond to the vibrations produced by music.

Taking inspiration from above I decided to study the effects of music on cheese; I was very eager to know how the flavour and ripening of cheese would respond to different frequencies of musical sound.

So I went to the mall and bought 8 packets of cheese. After coming home the cheese was gently escorted out of the packs and kept on 8 wooden dishes seperately.

Then eight pairs of earphones were placed surrounding each wooden dish. Lot of thought went into the selection of eight types of music.

One dish of cheese wiggled itself to Elvis Presley while Beetles serenaded another.

While Country Music took it back to its country roots, afrobeat shook it up to its core.

Jazz was music to its core, and Folk music welled up its eyes.

The cheese really thrived in Indian classical, growing in size and spilling beyond the borders of the wooden dish.

But when I played it, its namesake song, “tu cheese badi hai mast mast…”, and tasted, I slurped my fingers; it has a strong flavour. Perhaps it was influenced by the pair of handsome specimen who wiggled their booty seductively.

You would think I have lost my mind but no.

Recently a team of researchers, who, usually don’t have anything productive to do, conducted an exactly similar experiment.

The team used mini transmitters to diffuse the musical energy into the cheese and this experiment went on for 6 months for the results to be concluded and finally the results were announced.

The cheese exposed to Mozart had a milder taste, but it was the cheese exposed to hip-hop which had a tangy flavour.

Hope, further research doesn’t say that the Gully boy binges on tangy cheese. Or the Classical wizard is a connoisseur of mild cheese…

Yatindra Tawde

book review

The Vedas and Upanishads for children – A book review

Book title : The Vedas and Upanishads for children

Author : Roopa Pai

Publisher: Hachette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd.

No. of pages: 410

Let there be no doubt about it, The Vedas and Upanishads are no simple subjects that anyone and everyone can attempt writing about them. First of all, they are so ancient; second, they are originally written in the ancient language of the Indian subcontinent, Sanskrit. This language has very few current aficionados. Third, there are quite a few translations available, from the 19th century to quite recent, where, not everyone has managed to capture the true gist of those great works. 

However the author, Roopa Pai has studied the best among them like the works of Bibek and Dipavali Debroy, Swami Vivekananda, S. Radhakrishnan, Sri M and many others. Please refer to the select bibliography at the end of the book.

Studying is only half the battle won. Interpreting it for the target audience, who are the teenagers, and keeping it interesting enough throughout the entire length of the book is a stupendous achievement. 

And mind you, this book is not only for teenagers, though written in a language they understand. Those who have only a cursory knowledge of the Vedas and Upanishads, like yours truly, will find it equally interesting and wonderous. I mean, those ancient rishis and sages really developed some profound thoughts which acted as guiding principles to innumerable generations. 

Like the author says, there might be parts of the Vedas and Upanishads that you will love and others which you don’t feel comfortable with. Just take from them the useful and illuminating lessons and set the rest aside. Even those ancient sages are not asking you to believe everything they have said but exhorting you to think for yourself.

Speaking for myself, I felt those sages certainly had a scientific bent of mind, the way they thought and tried to unravel answers to some very fundamental questions. They sought to inspire people to seek the truth for themselves. Of course, the science of those times may not have been so advanced (though many would disagree) that few of those ideas would be relevant in today’s age too, but you can’t deny that the methodology they employed is still applicable. You might think I have said something preposterous, but read this book and then form your own opinion.

Hats off to Roopa Pai for attempting to communicate in simple language, the very difficult and sometimes confusing world of the Vedas and Upanishads. She says that the old, old answers of the Upanishads are among the most convincing, for a significant number of people still swear by them. So grab this book to find out more!

Totally recommended.

Yatindra Tawde

humour, Sports

Cricket goes vegan

The diet of prehistoric man mainly consisted of meat and fish. Poor fellow, he wasn’t proficient in agriculture yet. So he had to subsist on food which was achieved by killing other living beings, or rather other animals. In addition to this, they were also drinking the milk of different animals.

Then he progressed and developed agriculture. Now he had choice of a new food; previously this choice had been restricted.

As they progressed further they developed a conscience. This conscience started troubling a few humans. They were overcome by a feeling of guilt on killing animals for food. A few gave up eating animals, subsisting only on vegetables, fruit and milk. They started calling themselves vegetarian while those belonging to the opposite spectrum were non-vegetarian.

After the industrial revolution and especially in the late twentieth century, diary farms were run like an industry, with target oriented milk production. This involved cruel practices like calves being taken away from the cows as soon as they were born and the cows themselves being abandoned as soon as their milk production went down.

Various research and studies also showed that man is not very lactose friendly. Combined with the inhuman practices in milk production, these studies pushed some humans to give up on milk too. They started subsisting only on plant products for their nutrition. A new term had to be coined for this category of humans and the vegans were born.

So today’s topic is Veganism but in an entirely different field. Yes, it is the cricket field we are talking about.

Now you may wonder what is the connection of a game of cricket with Veganism. Well lots, if the English are to be believed.

As you know, the cricket ball is a covering of leather encasing a core of cork which is layered with tightly wound string. This leather is cow leather but let me assure you that there is nothing cruel about this industry.

However, since it is leather, an animal product, it had to come under the scanner.

It so happened that a new owner took over one of the many small cricket clubs in England. This person happened to be vegan. But he was disturbed that one of the key ingredients of the game involved animal hides which usually gets a good hiding with the bat. He decided to do something about it.

His idea and some entrepreneur’s enterprise has resulted in a ball which is covered by rubber instead of leather.

It’s another matter that this ball bounces till the first floor currently but they assure us that it will be brought down to earth soon.

I wonder whether world cups of the future will be divided into vegan non-vegan teams playing with extra long bats to negotiate the delinquent balls.

Yatindra Tawde

humour, science

Recruitment Pigs

Recruitment Pigs! 

The title may have shocked you when you first read it but does this following word make any connect?

“Neuralink”. 

Yes, now you smile to yourself because many of you may have read it in the news or seen the video.

The billionaire entrepreneur is trying to recruit workers or volunteers for his neuroscience startup. Last year he used rats and this year he went further into evolution and used pigs.

While last year we just saw a rat posing coyly for a photograph with a Neuralink connected via an USB port, this year it was the turn of a pig strutting around with the Entrepreneur chaperoning it.

Gertrude, as the pig was lovingly called, was said to have its brain implanted with a small computer for two months.

This was at a live stream event to recruit employees for his Neuroscience startup, Neuralink. The small computer is a small coin-sized implant in Gertrude’s brain and described as a “fitbit in the skull with tiny wires”.

While the previous design meant for humans had super thin wires, thinner than the human hair, connected to a device mounted behind the ear, the new device is much smaller, does not require the ear device and has been claimed to be implantable directly in the brain by a surgical robot under local anaesthesia.

The goal of Neuralink is creating a wireless brain-machine interface with the hope of curing neurological conditions and allow paralyzed people to control a computer mouse, among other things.

The device is said to be removable and the entrepreneur showed off Dorothy, another pig, whom he claimed, had one of the devices implanted in its brain and subsequently removed.

While the goal of the entrepreneur is commendable, I couldn’t help but smile that the humble pig is playing a significant role in making progress towards a world where artificial intelligence would take on a whole new meaning.

Would the insult, “You swine” be taken as flattery in the future? Just thinking…

Yatindra Tawde

book review

A fallen leaf – a book review

Book title – A fallen leaf

An anthology of short stories

Author – various

No. Of pages – 132

A Fallen leaf is a collection of 15 short stories by 15 different writers. True to its title, there are various aspects to each story but all dwelling upon myriad emotions. 

After a fall, whether it is a physical fall or an emotional one, it is the inherent nature of a human being to try and get up and move on. 

The anthology is a combination of stories of hope, of romance, of drama and some comic. Some stories connect with the reader instantly whereas some need time to savour them.

I will start with my favourite one; All for the blossoms by Em Kay which tells the story of a protagonist who spares his valuable time for the most important person in his life and how this gesture enriches both their lives.

A mosaic on the Garden floor by Sharanya Mishra is a story told from the point of view of a fallen maple leaf, as it flies from the life of one family to another, each facing it’s own challenges, some facing them with strength while some breaking down.

Two Pilgrims by Rham Dhel is a thought provoking story of two Pilgrims coming from opposite social background. Read it to savour it’s message of living in tune with nature, of becoming one with it.

Refugee by Kaushik Mujumdar is gut wrenching, highlighting the futility of war where no one is the winner.

Varied Moods, Varied Seasons by Sitharaam Jayakumar is a take on seasons where parallels are drawn with the human life which moves from good times to not so good times and the importance of maintaining sustainable relationships with near and dear ones.

The Mis(fit) by Saravjot Hansrao highlights the importance of having confidence in one’s own abilities irrespective of outward appearances when you are being subjected to body shaming.

Hope by Srikant Singha Ray is a story of overcoming one’s own fears.

The funeral by Nilutpal Gohain, contrary to its title is a comic take on a generally serious situation.

Behind the Bars by Kajal Kapur captures the fatalistic emotional state of life behind bars through the eyes of two inmates.

The other stories in this anthology  are good too and overall the anothology achieves what it set out to do.

The poems composed by Olinda Braganza to introduce each story are an added attraction in, ‘A fallen leaf, for the poetry enthusiasts.

Yatindra Tawde

humour

What’s in a name…

What’s in a name? You might ask. 

I was forced to ask due to an ongoing trending story on social media.

Poor Shakespeare would turn in his grave when he comes to know, how his world famous quote from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has been appropriated today by an Indian named ‘Binod’.

For those who don’t know their Shakespeare, in his ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Juliet famously says, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But Shakespeare had to write many masterpieces of English literature for his dialogues to become so famous as to be recalled by millions of his fans, sometimes out of context.

But this Indian named ‘Binod’ became famous, or rather, atleast his name became famous, so much so that the Who’s who of the world started quoting the name to stress various messages, which they would like to put across to the people.

What did this Binod do? It’s just a comment, did I say? Well, yes and no. A user called Binod Tharu has been doing nothing on YouTube. Yes, he has done nothing. 

Nothing except adding his first name Binod, in the comments section of huge number of YouTube videos uploaded on any and every subject under the Social media Sun. 

This was enough to troll him (an international sport?) with Binod memes and the rest as they say, is history. These Binod memes became so famous that national and international brands jumped on the bandwagon.

Swiggy celebrated their birthday with the tweet, ‘We think Binod will be the first person to call and wish us at 12 tonight’.

Airtel India exhorted it’s users to ‘Receive every call with Haan Binod bol’, asking them to comment and tag them with the reactions.

Amazon Prime video IN joined in the fun by using a still from the movie ‘Kuch kuch hota hai’ and saying, ‘Hi, I am Binod, naam toh suna hi hoga’.

But as usual the Mumbai Police twitter handle rocked with their own comment, ‘Dear Binod, we hope your name is not your online password. It’s pretty viral, change it now.” This was for their Online safety campaign.

Sometimes one doesn’t need to do something earth shattering to become famous nowadays, especially on the social media space, a humble well placed comment or comments are enough.

Yatindra Tawde

book review

Tales with a Twist – A book review

Title – Tales with a Twist

An Anthology of short stories

Author – Varadharajan Ramesh

No. Of pages – 64

If you love stories with unexpected twists, look no further. Though this Anthology is the Author’s first published one, you can easily discern that he is no amateur.

There are 17 stories on varied subjects but each story succeeds in its own way, where the ending is quite unexpected though at the same time,  logical. In some of the stories, the twist made me curious to re-read the story and understand how the author has set it up for an unexpected ending. 

I won’t be reviewing each of the 17 stories but some, which made me go, ‘Oh, wow!’

It starts with a bang with ‘Repairing Cushions’ which brings a smile to your face when the reason for having this uncommon title becomes apparent at the end of the story.

‘Innocence’ says many things in so few words and certainly hits the nail on its head. A hard-hitting message there.

‘Dependent’ is a story of many families which shocks you with an unexpected ending.

Then I must mention my most favourite story in this Anthology, ‘The Troubles of Time Travel’ where two gentlemen argue and debate most seriously and scientifically on the possibility of Time Travel only to reveal the most mundane of reasons at the end. I loved the author’s thought process in constructing this story and his very obvious interest in time travel.

‘Good Ol’ Coop’ seems to be one story but when it ends it is a totally different one and gives a stark glimpse into what might happen if the usual human food supply dries up and the drastic solutions a man could think up, to survive.

‘Lonely’ is another story with a science background, this time on the loneliness of space.

‘Ultra’ captures the mindless violence indulged in by sports fans without any thought to the consequences.

All in all, an excellent read.

Yatindra Tawde

horror

A new world

After a long winding process of checking whether the bank branch is open or not, I make my way towards it. Yes, such checks are needed in these CoVid times, such is the uncertainty. 

Upon reaching, I extend my hand to push open the swinging door when suddenly the watchman rises from his stool and stands between me and the door. He points a gun and aims it between my eyes. I recoil in terror but then I realise that it is the plastic one measuring my temperature. Like it happens to many others who undergo this ritual, I don’t know whether to look at the gun with squinted eyes or just close them. “Theek hai”, he growls.

Again I extend my hand to open the door, when the watchman barks, “Ungli…”. Embarrassed, I raise my little finger and tell him, “No, no…I don’t want to go now”. With irritation in his voice, he shouts, “Arre, no! Your forefinger. Gentleman people like you, you don’t know even this?”

I don’t know where to hide my face as I feel a million eyes looking at me. I raise my forefinger, which he puts inside an oximeter. After few seconds which feel like an eternity he mumbles, “Ok”.

“Show me your hands”, he orders. He is really enjoying his current position of power. Being at the receiving end, I extend both my hands. Out of nowhere he fetches a dispenser and squirts few drops of sanitizer on my hands.

“Go!” He says and stands back, taking full precautions not to touch me even by mistake.

“And don’t take off your mask”. That’s his parting shot. 

This, then friends, is the new world where you are forced to wear masks and gloves inside the bank and the watchman points a gun point-blank between your eyes, outside.

Yatindra Tawde